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The Oath of the Peach Garden (桃園三結義) was an oath in the historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, by which the three warriors Liu Bei, Guan Yu, and Zhang Fei became sworn brothers in a ceremony amid peach blossom trees. The original goal of the Peach Garden Oath was to protect the Han Dynasty from the Yellow Turbans. This act bound the three key men of the future Shu-Han Kingdom of China and is often alluded to as a symbol of fraternal loyalty. Nothing in historical records suggest such an event happened, though the three were noted to be close, to the point of sharing the same bed.[1]

The oath, as it appears in the Wikisource translation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms/Chapter 1, was this:

Oath of the Peach Garden at Long Corridor.JPG

When saying the names Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei, although the surnames are different, yet we have come together as brothers. From this day forward, we shall join forces for a common purpose, and come to each other's aid in times of crisis. We shall avenge the nation from above, and pacify the citizenry from below. We seek not to be born on the same day, in the same month and in the same year. We merely hope to die on the same day, in the same month and in the same year. May the gods of heaven and earth attest to what is in our hearts. If we should ever do anything to betray our friendship, may the gods in heaven strike us dead.

In many other translations, only the section dealing with "dying on the selfsame day" is present. However, the three brothers do not die on the same day: Guan Yu is executed by Sun Quan, Zhang Fei is assassinated by his own men whom he treated with cruelty, and Liu Bei dies of illness after the disastrous attempts to avenge Guan Yu and reclaim the province of Jing.

The oath inspired the present day secret societies in Chinese communities, such as the Triad, to use a similar ritual when swearing in new members. "Though not born on the same day of the same month in the same year, we hope to die so" — the phrase the three brothers made during the oath — had also become popular among the present day secret society members.

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